One of the worlds tiniest countries is holding a referendum on legalising abortion

One of the last countries in Europe to forbid abortion is holding a referendum on reversing the ban.

San Marino, a tiny Catholic country surrounded by Italy, has a law banning abortion in any circumstance that dates from 1865.

It is one of the world’s oldest republics and one of the tiniest countries, with a population of about 33,000 people.

The proposal on the referendum ballot calls for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and beyond then if the woman’s life is in danger or if her physical or psychological health are at risk because of anomalies or malformations of the foetus.

Women in San Marino seeking an abortion usually go to neighbouring Italy, which made abortion legal in 1978.

But proponents of the referendum say that puts an undue financial burden on them. Because abortion is a crime in San Marino, if a woman goes to Italy to have the procedure the health service in San Marino will not reimburse her.

But when people in San Marino go to Italy to access health care that might not be available in their homeland their public health service reimburses them.

Opponents point out that in San Marino even minors can receive free contraception at pharmacies, including the so-called morning-after pill.

Women in San Marino only received the right to vote in 1960.

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